Despite not even being 20 years old, Devon Bostick has already amassed a solid resume, ranging from indie dramas to horror flicks to mainstream family fare. Plus: he’s already worked with the George A. Romero. Twice. Not too shabby for a kid from Toronto who can’t yet sip a drink legally — in the States, at least.
I had a chance to catch up with Bostick – continuing my personal streak of having never met a Canadian who wasn’t patently nice – who is busy promoting two films out right now and more coming down the pike.
Ryan Mason: At what point did you get involved in Sacrifice?
Devon Bostick: I’ve known [director] Damian Lee for a long time. I did King of Sorrow when I was 13; I played a young drug dealer then. For Sacrifice, I read a much different draft years ago, when I was younger and looking at a different role. But then the most recent draft – I talked to Damian before casting – and the character was much older: he was protecting his daughter, not his sister. So I presented him with the idea that Mike was younger and more innocent and taking care of his sister instead. Damian liked it and that’s what we ended up going with in the script.
RM: You worked with some movie veterans in this one, sharing a scene with Christian Slater. What did you learn from them as far as the craft of filmmaking?
DB: So much fun to work with them. Only had one scene with Cuba which took place over the phone — well, there was also the one where I’m [SPOILER!] dead on the ground and Cuba’s walking around the room [laughs]. But he was great, very nice, down to earth. It was really cool working with Christian Slater. We had a scene together and he was really happy and light-hearted. We would joke around in between takes and then as soon as they said “Action!” we’d just go right into character. Made it more of a fun work environment that way, especially considering the dark subject matter.
RM: You had previously worked with Kim Coates, Lara Daans, and director Damian Lee before. Had you established some short-hand in your workflow since the last project? Did that make things more fun, easier?
DB: This was my third movie with Damian – although I’d had smaller roles before. But yeah it was like a family set because Damian is so out there and happy and high energy that there’s always a great mood on the set. Kind of like making a home movie with your friends. And it was fun to go back and work with the same group since the chemistry was already set. There wasn’t all that getting-to-know-you phase. Also, Kim Coates is a genius. He knows Damian really well and is so comfortable with him so he would just improvise his lines in a lot of scenes. Damian wrote the movie so he knew where it was going and was cool with letting us actors run with it. In one scene I had with Zion [Lee] where he’s forcing me to kill a guy and we just threw all the dialogue out and just improvised the whole thing. Just kept the camera rolling.
RM: You’ve gone from teen-flicks like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but also done more genre fare with Saw VI and both Land of the Dead and Survival of the Dead. What draws you to the film roles you choose?
DB: I’ve had a long streak of dramatic indies, and I still will. I love drama and comedy. But I’d feel stuck and held down if I’m just doing one or the other. I’m a goofy guy but I sill like going into those dark places as well. Wimpy Kid is the greatest – but I like having those dark gems in there, too.
RM: What was it like working with a master like George Romero?
DB: Loved working with George. He’s so on it. He knows, as he’s shooting, how he’s going to edit it. Amazing just getting to watch him do his things. I mean he’s the king. My first role for him was in Land of the Dead and I was only on set for two days, had this quick scene and didn’t even have any lines. So I asked him for a shotgun to hold. And George was so nice and actually gave me this shotgun to some kid who didn’t even have any lines. And then after shooting, he invited me into the editing room. I mean, I’m this little kid and just blown away by this whole world. Then later on when I did Survival of the Dead, I had developed more as an actor and got to play a cocky teen. I didn’t even have a name in that one because I had played a previous character in the other movie so they didn’t want to have any confusion in the whole Romero universe.
RM: You’ve been acting for most your life, both in TV and in movies. How much are you still learning and growing?
DB: I’m always learning. When I was younger, I’d meticulously learn every single line and spend so much time on preparation. Roles were smaller then so I wanted to do the most I could with what I was given. But then I got older and had bigger characters, we’re filming every day, there’s just not time for that anymore. When I was working on Adoration, I had these pages-long monologues where I’m just talking to this computer screen. And [director] Atom Egoyan pulled me aside and told me not to memorize the lines until the day before. I mean, I had had the script for two months before filming so I was reading it a bunch of times but my performance ended up coming more naturally since it hadn’t been rehearsed so much. It was cool to get that natural feel. Especially since the whole audition process you practice it so much because it’s the most important part – you need to get the role! But yeah, you just keep learning, keep changing styles. It’s cool how styles change.
RM: What’s next for you?
DB: Up for a few things right now. Wimpy 3 is a possibility. I’m actually writing a project with Damien, just polishing up the last few pages. We’ve already done a few drafts of this idea I had about bike cops – this epic, dystopic comedy about bike cops – I took to Damien and it should be great. Damien’s films always have this political and spiritual sides to them, and they’re usually dark. So this time we have the political stuff but it’s comedy, so it’s refreshing. And then I have The Entitled with Ray Liotta, which we actually shot before Sacrifice and it should be coming out soon. Also this 3D horror flick we shot last year called Hidden 3D. I think that’s actually releasing in Russia, too. I love the whole industry, just the act of storytelling. I’d like to transition into writing more or producing as well as acting. Whenever I’m not working, I feel like I should be, so that would be a way to keep making movies.